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LA officials target illegal fireworks ahead of Independence Day

Officials are trying to stop illegal fireworks sales before they happen in a crackdown ahead of the Independence Day holiday.
Officials are trying to stop illegal fireworks sales before they happen in a crackdown ahead of the Independence Day holiday.

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer is so adamant about cracking down on fireworks that he's formed a task force with other agencies, including the L.A. Fire Department, Port Police and the Bureau of Street Services, to intercept illegal fireworks before they're sold to the public.

"This task force is going to be on the case," said Feuer.

In just the past two weeks, the task force has confiscated a thousand pounds of illegal and dangerous fireworks and is pursuing criminal cases against four people for selling them, including at a storefront in the Toy District and one in Chinatown.

All fireworks in the city of Los Angeles are illegal, even if they were bought legally in another jurisdiction, and for good reason.

"Most of the emergency room visits attributed to illegal and dangerous fireworks are for kids ages 5 to 9 and for teenagers," said Feuer.

"We have hillsides, we have brush areas that are extremely volatile," said LAFD Interim Chief Jim Featherstone. "Our fire season has extended inordinately long this year."

Aside from a dangerous fire season and numerous injuries -- 40 percent of them young people -- every year firefighters see damage to vehicles and property.

And, they warn, you should know fireworks are all dangerous explosives.

"We've had garages explode. It's a tremendous explosive hazard, especially when they have not been handled safely," said LAPD Bomb Squad Sgt. Paul Robi.

Anyone caught selling fireworks could face tens of thousands of dollars in fines and jail time. If you've already bought fireworks, they can be turned in at any fire station. If you know of someone selling fireworks, you're urged to contact police to report it.

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